Commitment to Community

Commitment to Community

Home / YMCA in Des Moines' Urban Core

The Y is more than a place -
we're a purpose

kids in SLLP


Since 1994, the YMCA of Greater Des Moines has been strengthening community in Des Moines' Urban Core, an area made up of 10 neighborhoods immediately north and west of downtown. 


Through programs and services based at the John R. Grubb Community YMCA at 11th and College, the Y has reached out into these neighborhoods to address the physical, mental, emotional and social needs of residents in one of Iowa's most diverse and economically challenged areas. With its focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y has opened doors, created opportunity and fostered connections among people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. 


The Y's mission impact will continue to be felt beyond the walls of the Grubb YMCA as the organization's focus shifts to enhancing community-based programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all: 

Summer Learning Loss Prevention Programs are dedicated to reducing academic skill loss during the summer break, which is more pronounced for children from low-income families. The Y's SLLP programs provide instruction in reading and math and other enrichment opportunities to help kids not only maintain, but improve upon their end-of-year academic performance. 

After-School Programs offered in conjunction with Des Moines Public Schools provide a safe and nurturing environment for children during the hours between school dismissal and 6 p.m. Funding from the Y keeps the weekly rate affordable for families most in need of the program. 

Girls on the Run enables girls in grades 3-8 to build confidence, connection and character through an evidence-based curriculum that incorporates running. Volunteer coaches and mentors serve as role models, helping girls at a vulnerable stage of development enhance their physical fitness, discover their joy and unlock their limitless potential.

Y Achievers/Ready 515 Teen Leadership Program engages teens in career and college exploration, social-emotional skill development and leadership opportunities, preparing them for graduation and success beyond high school. 

Safety Around Water, the Y's drowning prevention program, teaches children from underserved communities how to keep themselves and others safe in and around water. The program also emphasizes the importance of having adult Water Watchers on duty whenever children are near pools or bodies of water where trained lifeguards are not present. 

Unlocking Brain Fitness: KEYS to Dementia Prevention is an evidence-based program providing adults 55 and older with the information and support to make lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of developing dementia by up to 70%. In addition to improving cognitive health, the program provides resources to improve seniors' physical and mental well-being and social connectedness. 

Fatherhood Programming helps men reconnect with their children and become a positive, consistent presence in their lives through education, mentoring and sponsorship of activities dads can do with their kids. The Y hopes to further expand this program with additional financial assistance from the State of Iowa. 

YMCA Iowa Wolves Metro League Basketball offers the physical, mental, social and emotional benefits of organized sports competition to students who do not play on their high school teams. In its second year, the program doubled participation to more than 400 students from throughout the metro area.  

Community Outreach Events such as the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Prayer Breakfast, the Back 2 School Bash, Fathers & Families Cookout, Peace Day, Healthy Kids Day, mobile food pantry visits and food distribution events bring people together to make the neighborhoods of the Urban Core more cohesive, welcoming and supporting.